Before leaving for Greece, I tried my best to lower my expectations. I knew the country would be beautiful, the course would be immersive, and that the trip was carefully planned, but I still had my doubts. It may have just been the anxiety kicking in as the day to leave neared.
To be fair, I did end up having a 7+ hour delay with my first flight, which led to the airport having to Lyft me to Atlanta to catch a flight that they rerouted for me. To make a long story short, I got to Athens 14 hours later than I had originally planned. I got back to the hotel super late, and the first day of class started in 7 hours.
As I left my room with my tote bag packed, I entered the breakfast lounge. As soon as I sat down, one of my classmates mistook me for Cathy (the girl second from the left in the picture below). Although I had to explain that he was mistaken, I was relieved that my classmates were so friendly. As more and more classmates joined I felt my nerves ease.
(Temple of Poseidon, the columns in the background are of the Doric order, which are the most simple. Generally large columns placed on the outside of buildings were Doric, but if there were ever multiple rows of columns the rule of thumb would be that the closer and shorter the columns were the more intricate they would be. In order of least complex to most complex we have: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian).
It turned out that a lot of my other classmates felt the same way. We weren’t expecting to make friends or have nearly as much fun as we did. But to our surprise we had the time of our lives. As the weeks went by we took countless quizzes and ate together at locally owned restaurants. We spoke to shop owners and even met a few bama fans along the way.
We read on the bus and caught up on our journals on the way to each city. Our bus driver, Odysseas, was with us for most of the trip. He would hear us trying to count off in Greek, practicing our good morning, noon, and night (kalimera, kalispera, kalinikta), and dropped us off at our final destination in Pefkochori.
As we swam in the sea we had to be mindful of the urchins stuck on the rocks. Water and bread always had a charge at every restaurant we went to. It was mineral water, which tastes a lot different than than the water in the US. Every time we ate out as a group, the food was put on one bill, which meant we were constantly doing math when going out. Many places didn’t have air conditioning. Those were just a few of the things that we got used to over the course of the three weeks abroad. But we caught on quick and it became second nature.
There were also very pleasant culture shocks as well. Whenever someone would stop us to ask where we were from, they would either tell us about how they’ve been to the United States before, or about how it’s their dream to one day visit. We were also occasionally given free desserts and treats whenever we would go out for meals. I had no idea that the country and people were so hospitable, but it was such a wonderful surprise.
Overall, I’m glad that the trip went above and beyond my expectations. When I tell my family and friends about it I can’t help but include the history behind some of the places we’ve been to. Not only is the country beautiful, but so are the people and the culture. The three weeks I spent in Greece were full of new friends, laughs, and learning about the beautiful country around us while moving cities every few days. It was a whirlwind, but it was fun.